Small Homework Tips for Big Success


An after-school routine can save your parenting soul. It establishes boundaries and equips kids in one of the most important parts of their lives—their education.

Do you struggle with how to handle the homework hours? Don’t worry! The first weeks of school are the perfect time to reinforce good habits and to  establish some new ones to help your child succeed.

For some kids, it’s a breeze. But most need some structure to help transition from the school day they just had into the school day they’ll have tomorrow.


Because the MOMENT kids walk in the door from school is really the beginning of the next school day. There are some simple things that can help them set themselves up for success.

Here’s the drill: 

1. Shedding: They walk in the door and start shedding (yes, like a fat, unbrushed Golden Retriever…). Their clothes, shoes and backpack start dropping.

Wherever they choose to place these items today determines if they can get to them quickly tomorrow. So, set them up for success with designated places (even if it’s a designated place on the hallway floor) that they always put their essentials.

What’s next? 9 times out of 10 it’s the beloved kitchen table. After all, they are always starving, right?

2. Snacky snacks. And more snacks. This is the one time of day that I don’t care if my kids have cookies and milk. It’s traditional. Inspiring. And downright exciting to dunk and nibble your day away and through your homework. When I’m inspired I make my secret weapon chocolate chip cookies. They honestly never miss the mark.

I would love to tell you I serve them carrots and tofu, but I don’t. Teenagers also practically eat an entire meal during this time. Make it easy on them and keep frozen leftover dinners in the freezer for them to nuke. If you are feeling especially kind, nuke it for them so they can get on with the noshing and get to the next exciting part of the after-school routine…..

3. Homework done directly after schoo = get out of (homework) jail free card…..Just like you don’t get to collect 200 until you pass go in Monopoly, neither should just about anything else stop them from this.

Homework done directly after school = a get out of jail card for the rest of the evening. That glorious feeling is just the feedback they need to continue on this habit.

If you’ve fallen into the trap of “Johnny needs a b-r-e-a-k after school to unwind before he gets his homework done”, I caution you. This is like waiting until the week before Christmas to buy presents: poor quality work, unexpected expenses and stress beyond words. Even if they are taking 5 minute breaks while their getting it done, it’s better than waiting.

{Note: Some high schoolers are up at the crack of dawn, go to school for 8 hours, have 2 hour sports practice and THEN get home. Nuts, I tell you. But power naps (30 minutes) can be of HUGE benefit.  But still no TV, computer, screen time until the homework is done. They need rewards, and lots of them. That’s why having all your homework done and THEN getting to sit down and watch stupid YouTube videos is better than the reverse.}

So what if they are in activities or after school care and don’t get home until dinner time? What has worked for our family is setting up the space for homework before dinner. After eating, it’s ready! Pens, paper, computer and books out of backpack.

4. Speaking of homework space….. clearing a space, just about anywhere can free up a kid to do their best work. I have one son who’s a floor spreader. He is just more comfortable on the floor squatting around all of his papers and getting the big picture. Another one of mine stands to complete all of his homework. Yet another is a hermit for homework — isolated and undistracted in their room. To each his own — as long as it’s done.

However, make sure all electronic devices are out of their rooms! If you’re not sure, kindly ask them to be “parked” in the kitchen while they work. They’ll hate you for a minute (or three), but love you later.

An after school routine can save your parenting soul. It establishes boundaries and equips kids in one of the most important parts of their lives — their education.

What other creative strategies have your children used to complete their  homework?

How have you established a homework routine that works?

What homework helpers have you used in your home? 

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Dr. Tim Kimmel
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Lead Your Children to Seek God’s Approval
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